Is it one word or two?

Take a look at these sentences from the Oxford English Corpus:

Thankyou very much for all your help.

✗ The show has generated alot of media coverage.

✗ We had no idea what the night would have instore for us.

The highlighted words in these sentences reflect a current trend in English which you may have noticed: the joining up of fixed expressions whose components are usually written separately.

None of the spellings given above are acceptable in standard British English: you should still write thank you, a lot, and in store as two words. But the shift from two-word to one-word forms is a well-established process in the language. There are many common English words that started out as two-word phrases, e.g. somebody, everyone, today, or tomorrow. Over time they became fused into the one-word forms we use now.

The tendency to join two-word expressions together seems especially strong in the US. It's standard practice to write underway, anymore, or someday as one word in American English, for example, whereas the two-word forms are still the norm in British English:

US English
British English
Plans for next year's project are already underway.
By October, the work was well under way.
I know someday my whole family will be together.
I would love to return to Australia some day.
We don't even think about it anymore.
I really don't like him any more.


There's one notable exception to this: you're much more likely to see the one-word form thankyou in British English rather than in American English. This doesn't make it an acceptable spelling at the moment, though the situation may eventually change.

See more from Spelling Differences Between Languages